Painting by Rembrandt of Paul, one of the most...
Painting by Rembrandt of Paul, one of the most notable of early Christian missionaries, who called himself the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Paul, a Hellenistic Jew, was very influential on the shift of Christianity to Gentile dominated movement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the second part of the Introduction (1:8-15) Paul begins with the thanksgiving for the Roman Christians because their faith was being reported all over the world. Later in 15:14 Paul noted that they were “full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another”.

The fact that he lavished praises on the Christians in Rome leads to the conclusion that the letter was not occasioned by any particular problem. This is important because when we get to 1:18-32 we don’t want to think that Paul was addressing sins that were prevalent in Rome.

Paul went on to inform the Roman Christians of his longing to see them. It would appear that he now saw his prayer to see them being answered. He states in verse 13 that previously he had not been able to fulfill his desire and he accepted it as God’s desire.

Paul’s longing to see the Romans was prompted by a desire for mutual encouragement. People in recovery know the importance of mutual encouragement. When recovery is a spiritual journey, then it is not a journey travelled alone.

It is the same with the Christian faith. Every follower of Christ needs a community, a home church, where one grows through mutual encouragement. Later in chapter 12 Paul emphasizes the importance of using spiritual gifts – given to each believer through grace – for the benefit of the body, the church.

Paul concludes the section pointing out his obligation to preach the gospel to all: Greeks and non-Greeks. In most cases he uses “Greeks” as a designation for all non-Jews (Gentiles). In verse 15 he sees that obligation as fundamental in his desire to visit the Roman church which, after all, consisted of both Jews and Gentiles.

Verses 16 and 17 form the third section of the Introduction and they also introduce one of the very important themes of the epistle.

That is next.